Home Authors Posts by Kathryn R. Bown

Kathryn R. Bown

Kathryn - Our health specialist likes to share with the readers the latest news from the field. Nobody understands better than her the relation between healthy mind and healthy body.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is planning to use a second Ebola vaccine to help control an outbreak that has killed more than 2,100 people.

In July, former Health Minister Oly Ilunga opposed the vaccine use saying it had not been proved effective.

However, DR Congo health officials say the vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson, is safe.

This outbreak, in the east of DR Congo, is the second largest on record.

The largest was the epidemic that ravaged parts of West Africa from 2014 to 2016, killing more than 11,000 people.

According to a government statement, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will complement the vaccine manufactured by Merck which has been administered to 225,000 people in the past year.

However, DR Congo’s Ebola response team have not yet said when it will be introduced.

Leading health experts have said that the second vaccine is safe and could be an important tool in holding back the spread of the virus.

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson said it had 1.5 million doses available to be deployed.

The current Ebola vaccine, which is in short supply, is only being given to health workers and people who might have been exposed to the virus.

The new vaccine could create a protective wall, vaccinating people outside the immediate outbreak zone.

The Congolese authorities intend to use the second vaccine outside the infected areas in Ituri and North Kivu provinces. They first want to protect the small Congolese traders who regularly cross into Rwanda.

There have been concerns that the new vaccine – which requires two injections at least 25 days apart – may be difficult to administer in a region where the population is highly mobile, and insecurity is rife.

The Merck vaccine requires just one injection.

Ebola Outbreak Declared in DR Congo

Ebola Vaccine VSB- EBOV Leads to 100% Protection

DR Congo has struggled to get the outbreak under control.

Insecurity in the east of the country and people’s suspicions of treatments have hampered efforts.

About 200 health facilities have been attacked in the country this year, causing disruption to vaccinations and treatments. In one incident, family members assaulted health workers who were overseeing the burial of their relative.

A 2018 study published in the Lancet medical journal says “belief in misinformation was widespread” concerning the Ebola outbreak.

In a statement in August, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on countries and NGOs that have offered help to “increase their presence in the field to stop Ebola and to address one of the largest and most complex humanitarian crises in the world”.

The current outbreak in eastern DR Congo began in August last year and is the biggest of 10 to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

In July, the WHO declared the Ebola crisis in the DR Congo a “public health emergency of international concern”.


Forms of birth control have been around for decades, and after the fog of shame and congressional gatekeeping lifted in the 1960s, birth control became more available and prevalent. One of the most popular and effective forms of birth control has been the IUD. The IUD or Intrauterine Device was initially conceived in 1909 when Dr. Richard Richter used insertions of a silkwood ring into the uterus.

In the 1920s, Dr. Ernest Grafenberg and Dr. Karl Prust also created silkwood rings for uterine insertion with varying degrees of modification to Richter’s original design. These IUD’s were reported to have an effective rate of 97% against pregnancies. Dr. Grafenberg, in a later revision, used pure silver around the ring and unfortunately, the women’s bodies absorbed the silver with their gums turning blue and black (gingival argyrosis). He used a silver alloy made from a mix of different metals, including copper, which alleviated the silver absorption problem and also increased the effective rate to 98.4% against pregnancy.

Image source: Wikipedia

Copper would play a part later on in the century with doctors discovering the effect that copper has on sperm, which increased effectiveness against pregnancy to 99%. These copper-wired IUD’s would later come into the market in 1988 under the Paragard name.

There have been some misfires on the road to the IUD’s of today. The A.H. Robins Company in 1971 put an IUD on the market called the Dalkon Shield. The marketing for this IUD was aggressive and was priced modestly compared to other IUD’s on the market. In 1974, it was pulled from the market due to a poorly-designed removal string that caused bacteria to enter the uterus. These bacteria caused thousands of women to develop Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), infertility, and in some cases, sepsis. There were over 300,000 lawsuits filed against A.H. Robins in the late 1970s which caused the company to go bankrupt and fold.

There are five different kinds of IUD brands today, which consist of Skyla, Kyleena, Lilleta, Mirena, and Paragard. The first four are known as hormonal IUD’s because they contain the hormone Progestin (Levonorgestrel) which mimics the naturally-produced hormone Progesterone. These hormones help thicken mucus in the cervix, which can block and trap sperm from reaching the egg. In some cases, the hormones can stop the egg from leaving the ovaries, which eliminates the chance of impregnation due to no egg being available.

The fifth one listed, Paragard, is a copper-wrapped IUD with no hormones which can protect against pregnancy for 12 years. This is the most extended protection of any IUD available. The hormonal IUD’s protection range lasts anywhere from three years (Skyla) to seven years (Mirena and Lilleta). Paragard also carries the most risk associated with using it. Women have reported more massive period flows and more menstrual pain in comparison with other IUD’s. You can’t use Paragard if you’re allergic to copper or if you suffer from Wilson’s Disease.

One of the IUDs pros is that once it’s in, you’re done. Under normal circumstances, you can leave it in until you reach the end of its useful life. IUD’s also have the highest effectiveness against pregnancy short of total abstinence.

The cons of using an IUD are in the insertion process, which can be a bit painful. The pain could last for a few days after insertion, and there’s always a risk that the IUD could shift or even fall out, but that risk is small under normal circumstances.

If you’re interested in an IUD, please consult with your doctor or medical practitioner to learn more, we also created an FAQ the explains the process for getting an IUD.


You count on doctors to keep you strong and healthy, but they can do better jobs when you take primary responsibility. Considering that medical visits can be expensive even with insurance coverage, appropriate attention to your own health helps make the most of each visit — and avoid unnecessary office returns.

Most importantly, the more you know about self-care, the better your overall health can be.


These Tips Can Help You Be The Best Possible You

You don’t have to spend too much time or money if you make tips like these a habit.

#1. Monitor at Home

Most people have a thermometer in the house, but how many have their own blood pressure monitors? Even this type of test is only the beginning; there are home tests available for a surprisingly wide variety of conditions. You already know about the availability of home pregnancy and drug tests. But, did you know that tests are also available for infections, cholesterol, thyroid levels and many other things?

These tests are not replacements for doctor-administered versions, but they can alert you to the need to make lifestyle changes— and when to seek medical attention.

#2. Communicate Freely

Whether you’ve known your doctor for a long time, or even if you are going to your first visit, the best way to ensure proper treatment of your medical issues is to tell the whole truth. Include all details even if some of them seem embarrassing or unimportant. Between visits, be sure to keep a list of questions and complaints so you’ll be ready to impart all information next time.

You might also consider talking to trusted friends and family members. While their advice does not replace discussions with your doctor, you might be surprised by how often their past experiences can identify potential medical conditions. Expressing these theories to your doctor can be very helpful.

#3. Avoid Risky Behavior

Few people go out of their way to treat their bodies badly. Still, a fast food burger that you can eat while driving is a typical go-to when you don’t have time to sit down and eat a healthy salad. Whether you need to quit smoking or stop eating so many sugary and fatty foods, attempting to correct everything at once is overwhelming.

Select one habit to tackle at a time to make your goals achievable. While you’re addressing one issue, however, continue to be mindful of the other bad behaviors. This motivational practice will make every habit easier to deal with when the time comes.

Finally, keep in mind that moderation is a great goal that helps you avoid feeling so deprived that you eventually binge. Clearly, moderation does not apply to cigarettes and other addictive substances. However, if your health objectives are well under control, feel free to go to Bacon Fest, but just for an hour.

#4. Maintain Your Own Medical Records

As years go by, you amass records that reveal medical patterns that may be enlightening in the future. Unfortunately, medical offices seldom provide copies of those records to patients, even though you have a legal right to obtain them. Since you seldom see the same doctor over a lifetime, knowledge of your medical history can bring new doctors up to speed.

You may have to pay your doctor’s office to print out hard copies that you can pick up in person. Electronic copies might be available at little or no cost, but privacy laws do not permit transmission by email. You can, however, obtain healthcare records by fax to help you regain control over your own healthcare.

#5. Find Ways to Deal With Stress

Very few people can avoid all stress. But, since many physical ailments are actually signs of stress, you need to learn to recognize the symptoms and take action to bring it down to a reasonable level.

First, determine if some of your stress can be completely eliminated. If your workload is unmanageable, try to find people who can help ease the burden, whether they are co-workers or even your family members. Also, try to determine how much of your stress is not necessary. A golden rule is to stop worrying about things that haven’t happened yet unless you can pre-plan methods for dealing with them.

For unavoidable stress, regular exercise is a great way to relax. A walk through nice scenery and music from tweeting birds is like tonic for the soul. Yoga is also very healthful, while the required concentration on each pose creates meditation-like calmness. If you are digitally minded, find a smart phone relaxation app that you can pull out of your pocket on an as-needed basis.

You May Live Beyond 100, So Make it Good

The number of centenarians in the U.S. alone is currently about 72,000. That number is growing, and predictions indicate that it might grow to around a million by 2050. Most people agree that advanced age is a benefit only to those in good health. You can’t avoid every ache and pain that is inevitable with aging, but you can have a long, rewarding life by taking primary responsibility for your own health.


Each medicine has side-effects. That you are so helpless against these side effects relies upon various elements, which can be commonly assembled as patient-related, drug-related, and ecological or social-related. See whether you have many qualities that will expand your vulnerability to drug-related reactions. Moreover, what you can do to deal with some of these possible side-effects.

Risk of Developing Side Effects

Every one of us is unique. However, certain individual factors make a few of us bound to develop side effects than others.

The most significant of these factors is age. The very young and the very old are often more vulnerable to undesirable reactions.

List of Common Drug Side Effects

The followings are some of the more commonly encountered drug-related side-effects and recommendations for their management.

1. Allergic Reactions

A doctor issuing a prescription for the wrong dosage faces failure to consider a patient’s allergies. Ultimately, the patient has to seek assistance from the law experts like Cleveland medical negligence lawyer to get compensated.

  • Potentially could happen with any prescription.
  • Symptoms go from a mild rash to a severe anaphylactic reaction.

Prevention and management strategies:

  • Seek emergency help if the reaction is severe.
  • If the allergic reaction is affirmed as happening because of that drug, keep away from it and other related medicines later on.
  • Wear a medical alert tag to caution others to the drug you are allergic too.

2. Blurred Vision

It may happen with antihistamines, antipsychotics, bupivacaine, bupropion, duloxetine, esomeprazole, etodolac, gabapentin, narcotics, and a few different drugs.

Prevention and management strategies:

  • Talk to your doctor about switching drugs.
  • Ointment eye drops may help.
  • Abstain from driving with weakened vision.

3. Bruising and Bleeding

They commonly happen with meds that “thin the blood, for example, aspirin, clopidogrel, enoxaparin, and warfarin. They are likewise regular with NSAIDs, steroids, and meds to treat cancer.

Prevention and management strategies:

  • Try to abstain from knocking yourself into furniture.
  • Cuts may take more time to quit bleeding. Hold a bandage over the affected area and apply pressure.
  • Seek emergency help if you have an injury that bleeds profusely or doesn’t quit bleeding within 15 minutes.

4. Constipation 

It is very common with narcotics, diuretics, calcium antagonists, and antidepressants, aluminium-containing antacids settling agents, ondansetron, and iron supplements.

Prevention and management strategies:

  • Increase water intake and the fibre content of your diet.
  • Exercise, if possible.
  • If mellow, talk to your doctor about taking purgatives, for example, docusate, sennosides, or psyllium.
  • If severe and brought about by narcotics, talk to your doctor about methylnaltrexone or naloxegol.

5. Cough

It is normal with ACE inhibitors.

Prevention and management strategies:

  • Talk to your doctor about switching drugs.
  • Normally settle one-to about fourteen days after the cessation.

6. Dehydration

It is also common with antihistamines, blood pressure meds, chemotherapy, and laxatives.

Prevention and management strategies:

  • Drink liquids. Cooled or frosted fluids may go down simpler.
  • Eat moist foods, for example, products, vegetables, and soups.
  • Consistently moisturize the skin and apply lip balm.
  • Apply lubricants to lips to evade painful cracking.


A few different factors also play a major role in the probability of side-effects. Some notable examples include:

  • Genetics
  • Kidney function
  • Gender


There’s something about the long, hot days of summer that have us hankering for a sense of lightness and peace in our homes. When it’s 95 degrees outside and the sun hasn’t set by 8 p.m., we don’t want to see heavy plaid comforters on our beds or dark colors on our walls, nor do we want to sit on formal-feeling furniture.

While you understandably don’t have the money in your budget to remodel each room of your home from top to bottom for each new season, there are plenty of affordable ways to bring summertime décor trends into your home. 

For example, check out these three easy ideas:

1. Become a Minimalist — At Least for Now

During the summer months, store away as many unneeded and unused items as possible. According to Better Homes and Gardens, think of your casa as a summer vacation home and thereby go about storing away the wintry throws, dozens of knickknacks and other items that are cluttering up the room. 

Then, pull the curtains open to bring in plenty of natural light and, if it’s not too hot outside, open some windows or doors to let in some cool morning air. You can bring all the warm and heavy items back out once fall comes, but for now, pare down each room to the essentials.

2. Add Splashes of Bright and Cheerful Colors

While you might associate fall and winter with deep tones like burgundy, rich reds, evergreen and browns, summer is all about light and cheery colors. To celebrate this trend, you could paint an accent wall a vivid blue, yellow or lime green; after all, a gallon of paint is pretty easy on the wallet. Similarly, if you’re in need of a new sofa, skip the neutral tan or grey model for one that has a cheerier color. 

For instance, the Dahlia sofa from Jerome’s Furniture is covered with a turquoise fabric, along with a couple of accent pillows that complement the color of the sofa. The turquoise color is perfect for the summer months and can be “warmed up” a bit in the fall and winter with the addition of cream-colored fleece blankets and maybe a few extra pillows with autumn leaf or snowflake motifs.

3. Channel Your Inner Museum Curator

If you’ve had the same pieces of art hanging on your walls for years, summer is the ideal time to brighten up your space with some new choices. Indeed, you could switch out framed prints every season for a super-fast and easy way to change the look and feel of your home. Simply store the unused prints in the back of a closet.

Now, if you still love your posters, sculptures and framed artwork, you certainly don’t have to trash them; just consider temporarily replacing a few of the old pieces with cheerful floral prints or an abstract painting with lots of bright colors. Then, when the weather turns cool again, put the summer pieces away and bring out the more formal paintings.

Make Your Home Sing “Summer”

Before you know it, the days will get shorter and the mercury in the thermometer will begin to drop. Until then, celebrate summer in and around your home by embracing the minimalist lifestyle, adding in lots of color and bringing in some new artwork. Your home ⁠— and your mood ⁠— will feel lighter and brighter.


Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is caused by inhaled asbestos fibers and forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.

The disease is most often diagnosed after a person goes to a doctor because of symptoms. If there is a reason to suspect you might have mesothelioma, your doctor will use one or more tests to find out. Symptoms might suggest that the problem could be mesothelioma, but tests will be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Medical history and physical exam

If you have any signs or symptoms that suggest you might have mesothelioma, your doctor will want to take a complete medical history to learn about your symptoms and possible risk factors, especially asbestos exposure. You will also be asked about your general health.

A physical exam can provide information about possible signs of mesothelioma and other health problems. Pleural mesothelioma can cause fluid to build up around the lungs in the chest (called a pleural effusion). In cases of peritoneal mesothelioma, fluid can build up in the abdomen (called ascites). In pericardial mesothelioma, fluid builds up in the sac around the heart (called a pericardial effusion). Rarely, mesothelioma can develop in the groin and look like a hernia. All of these might be found during a physical exam, such as when the doctor listens to these areas with a stethoscope.

Mesothelioma: Signs and Symptoms of Asbestos Cancer

Mesothelioma: How Is Asbestos Cancer Diagnosed?

If mesothelioma is a possibility, tests will be needed to make sure. These might include imaging tests, blood tests, and other procedures.

Malignant epithelioid mesothelioma
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Imaging tests

Imaging tests use x-rays, radioactive particles, or magnetic fields to create pictures of the inside of your body. Imaging tests may be done for a number of reasons, including to help find a suspicious area that might be cancerous, to learn how far cancer may have spread, and to help determine if treatment has been effective.

Chest X-Ray

This is often the first test done if someone has symptoms such as a constant cough or shortness of breath. It may show an abnormal thickening of the pleura, calcium deposits on the pleura, fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall, or changes in the lungs themselves as a result of asbestos exposure. These findings could suggest a mesothelioma.

Computed tomography (CT) scan

The CT scan is an x-ray test that produces detailed cross-sectional images of your body. Instead of taking one picture, like a regular x-ray, a CT scanner takes many pictures as it rotates around you while you are lying on a narrow table. A computer then combines these into images of slices of the body. Unlike a regular x-ray, a CT scan creates detailed images of the soft tissues in the body.

CT scans are often used to help look for mesothelioma and to determine the exact location of the cancer. They can also help stage the cancer (determine the extent of its spread). For example, they can show whether the cancer has spread to other organs. This can help to determine if surgery might be a treatment option. Finally, CT scans can be used to learn whether treatment such as chemotherapy has been helpful in shrinking or slowing the growth of the cancer.


This test uses sound waves to look at the heart. It may be done if your doctor suspects that you have fluid around your heart (a pericardial effusion). It can also tell how well the heart is working. For the most common version of this test, you lie on a table while a technician moves an instrument called a transducer over the skin on your chest. A gel is often put on the skin first.

Positron emission tomography (PET) scan

For a PET scan, a radioactive substance (usually a type of sugar related to glucose, known as FDG) is injected into the blood. The amount of radioactivity used is very low. Because cancer cells in the body grow quickly, they absorb more of the sugar than most other cells. After waiting about an hour, you lie on a table in the PET scanner for about 30 minutes while a special camera creates a picture of areas of radioactivity in the body.

The picture from a PET scan is not finely detailed like a CT or MRI scan, but it can provide helpful information about whether abnormal areas seen on these tests are likely to be cancerous or not. For example, it can give the doctor a better idea of whether a thickening of the pleura or peritoneum seen on a CT scan is more likely cancer or merely scar tissue. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, your doctor may use this test to see if the cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body. A PET scan can also be useful if your doctor thinks the cancer may have spread but doesn’t know where.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan

Like CT scans, MRI scans make detailed images of soft tissues in the body. But MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-rays. The energy from the radio waves is absorbed and then released in a pattern formed by the type of body tissue and by certain diseases. A computer translates the pattern into very detailed images of parts of the body. A contrast material called gadolinium is often injected into a vein before the scan to better show details. This contrast is different than the one used for CT scans, so being allergic to one doesn’t mean you are allergic to the other.

MRI scans can sometimes help show the exact location and extent of a tumor since they provide very detailed images of soft tissues. For mesotheliomas, they may be useful in looking at the diaphragm (the thin band of muscle below the lungs that helps us breathe), a possible site of cancer spread.

Health First: 4 Things to Do If You’ve Been Exposed to Asbestos

Blood tests

Blood levels of certain substances are often higher in people with mesothelioma:

  • Osteopontin
  • Soluble mesothelin-related peptides (SMRPs), detected with the MesoMark® test

Blood tests for these substances are not used to diagnose mesothelioma, but high levels may make the diagnosis more likely.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, other blood tests will be done to check your blood cell counts and levels of certain chemicals in the blood. These tests can give the doctor an idea of how extensive the disease may be, and how well organs such as the liver and kidneys are working.

Tests of fluid and tissue samples

Symptoms and test results may strongly suggest that a person has mesothelioma, but the actual diagnosis is made by removing cells from an abnormal area and looking at them under a microscope. This is known as a biopsy. It may be done in different ways, depending on the situation.

Removing fluid for testing

If mesothelioma might be causing a buildup of fluid in the body, a sample of this fluid can be removed by inserting a thin, hollow needle through the skin and into the fluid to remove it. Numbing medicine is used on the skin before the needle is inserted. This may be done in a doctor’s office or in the hospital. Sometimes ultrasound (or an echocardiogram) is used to guide the needle (these use sound waves to take pictures of parts of the body).

This procedure has different names depending on where the fluid is:

  • Thoracentesis removes fluid from the chest.
  • Paracentesis removes fluid from the abdomen.
  • Pericardiocentesis removes fluid from the sac around the heart.

The fluid is then tested to check its chemical makeup and is looked at under a microscope to see if it contains cancer cells. If cancer cells are found, special tests might be able to tell whether the cancer is a mesothelioma, a lung cancer, or another type of cancer.

Even if no cancer cells are found in the fluid, cancer may still be present. In many cases, doctors need to get an actual sample of the mesothelium (the pleura, peritoneum, or pericardium) to determine if a person has mesothelioma.

Needle biopsies

Suspected tumors in the chest are sometimes sampled by needle biopsy. A long, hollow needle is passed through the skin in the chest between the ribs and into the pleura. Imaging tests such as CT scans are used to guide the needle into the tumor so that small samples can be removed to be looked at under the microscope. This is often done using just numbing medicine.

Needle biopsy can also be used to get samples of the lymph nodes in the space between the lungs to see if the cancer has spread there.

Endoscopic biopsies

An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument used to look inside the body. It has a light and a lens (or tiny video camera) on the end for viewing and often has a tool to remove tissue samples.

Cancers in the lung often spread to lymph nodes, but mesotheliomas do this less often. Testing the lymph nodes can help show whether a cancer is still localized or if it has started to spread, which might affect treatment options. It can also sometimes help distinguish lung cancer from mesothelioma.

Open surgical biopsy

Sometimes, endoscopic biopsies aren’t enough to make a diagnosis and more invasive procedures are needed. By making an incision in the chest (thoracotomy) or an incision in the abdomen (laparotomy) the surgeon can remove a larger sample of tumor or, sometimes, remove the entire tumor.

Testing the samples in the lab

No matter how they were obtained, all biopsy and fluid samples are sent to the pathology lab. There, a doctor will look at them under a microscope and test them to find out if they contain cancer cells (and if so, what type of cancer it is).

It is often hard to diagnose mesothelioma by looking at cells from fluid around the lungs, abdomen, or heart. It can even be hard to diagnose mesothelioma with tissue from small needle biopsies. Under the microscope, mesothelioma can often look like other types of cancer. For example, pleural mesothelioma may resemble some types of lung cancer, and peritoneal mesothelioma in women may look like some cancers of the ovaries.

For this reason, special lab tests are often done to help tell mesothelioma from some other cancers.

Immunohistochemistry: This test looks for different proteins on the surface of the cells or inside them. It can be used to tell if the cancer is a mesothelioma or a lung cancer, which can sometimes appear to start in the inner lining of the chest.

If mesothelioma is diagnosed, the doctor will also determine what type of mesothelioma it is, based on the patterns of cells seen in the microscope. Most mesotheliomas are classified as either epithelioid, sarcomatoid, or mixed/biphasic.

Pulmonary function tests

If mesothelioma has been diagnosed, pulmonary function tests (PFTs) may be done to see how well your lungs are working. This is especially important if surgery may be an option to treat the cancer. Surgery often requires removing part or all of a lung, so it’s important to know how well the lungs are working to start with. These tests can give the surgeon an idea of whether surgery may be an option, and if so, how much lung can safely be removed.


E-juice can be expensive, especially if you vape often. If you’re looking for safe, quality, affordable e-juice in any flavor you feel like, you should think about making your own. You can create your own delicious, custom recipes based on your favorite foods and desserts. Here are some of the most common DIY e-juice questions.

1. What Ingredients Are Needed to Make DIY E-Juice?

E-juice usually includes a base liquid, flavor concentrates, and nicotine. The base liquid contains different combinations of vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). You can buy many premixed base liquids, or you can buy PG and VG separately and make your own. The most common VG and PG ratios are 70-to-30, 30-to-70, and 50-to-50.

PG is best for diluting flavor concentrates, and it’s an ingredient in many foods and cosmetics. It’s completely flavorless on its own, but some people can develop allergies or experience throat irritation. Vegetable glycerin is also part of many foods, and it’s sweeter and thicker than propylene glycol. You can use it to produce thick clouds of vapor, and it’s less likely to irritate your throat. Nicotine and flavorings are both optional.

You can experiment with different ingredients and ratios to improve your e-juice. A DIY vape juice kit has all the ingredients and equipment you need to start creating your own e-juice. That way, you can make one convenient purchase. Flavor kits with a variety of extracts and lab kits with equipment are available as well.

2. How Can People Make Premium E-Juice?

Image via Flickr by Ecigclick.co.uk 

Making your own vape juice doesn’t require any specialized knowledge. Like baking a cake, anyone can create a quality product with some practice and experimentation. You can choose premium flavors and other ingredients for the best possible vaping experience. There are thousands of flavor concentrates out there, and you can choose from several concentrations of nicotine.

You’ll need some small bottles for storing your base liquids, test recipes, and prepared e-juices. Graduated cylinders and beakers are useful for making larger amounts. Having plenty of containers also helps you avoid cross-contamination. Make sure to label your containers clearly to prevent mix-ups. You’ll also need some small syringes for adding ingredients by volume and an electronic scale for adding them by weight. Remember that nicotine has its own flavor. Since your skin can absorb it, you should use gloves when you handle it. Also, keep it away from children.  

3. What Are the Best DIY E-Juice Flavors?

According to Heavy, one of the best e-juice flavors is Lava Flow by Naked 100. It’s a blend of strawberry, pineapple, and coconut, and it tastes a lot like a piña colada. You can add additional flavors or the concentration of nicotine you prefer. Other options include coffee, granola, strawberry, watermelon, peppermint, menthol, cookie, and more.

Making your own e-juice might seem complicated, but it’s easy and fun. It’s an excellent way for you to enjoy the flavors of your favorite foods without overeating, and it can help you quit smoking.


Very few addictions only affect the person who is taking drugs, drinking, or gambling their money away. Their addictions also affect their friends and family too. If someone you love is abusing drugs, alcohol, or is gambling, use these ideas to help them.

Here are several ways to help your loved one through addiction

Know the Difference Between Enabling and Helping

Well-meaning family and friends can sometimes hurt their loved one more than helping them if they don’t know the difference between enabling someone and helping them. Supporting or helping someone means assisting them with things they may not be able to do.

Being supportive also encourages addicts to seek help to get better control of their lives. Enabling someone can keep them from dealing with the negative consequences of their addiction. If you’re lying for someone or making excuses for them, then you’re enabling them.

Learn about the Addiction

Being addicted to alcohol, drugs, or gambling is a disease, and the more that loved ones learn about it, the more helpful they can be. Take the time to learn the signs of addiction and what drugs or alcohol can do to the body.

Find out how your loved one can get help and where the nearest 12-step program or rehabilitation center is, so they don’t have to wait another day to start recovering.

Family members can also get help by going to a therapist or a program like Al-anon, Alateen, or Nar-anon.

Helping Spouses Recover

Leaving rehab after getting help with an addiction can be a frightening prospect, especially since the person may be around the enablers in their lives. As their spouse, you should learn how to assist your wife or husband with their recovery and be supportive of them.

It can be stressful living with an addict, especially if abuse or other problems that occurred during the time your spouse was using drugs or alcohol. However, you don’t need to learn how to live with an alcoholic or a drug abuser if you can get them the help they need.

Hire an Intervention Professional

It can be frustrating when someone refuses to acknowledge their addiction and get help for it. While an intervention can sometimes get through to the addict, you shouldn’t stage one without help. Speak to an addiction or intervention professional to get help with planning one.

You should also get help from people close to your loved one who is willing to be on the invention team. There will be a treatment plan set-up for the person who needs help, so it’s important to do an intervention properly.

Attend Couples Therapy

Drug, alcohol, and other addictions can destroy relationships with friends and family and ruin marriages. If you’re having a tough time reconciling with a spouse after they’ve been to rehab, consider going to couples’ therapy to try to save your marriage if you want to salvage it.

Couples’ therapy will allow both of you to openly express the feelings and issues you both have concerning your relationship. With a therapist helping, the discussions are less likely devolve into shouting matches because you’ll have the tools to get all the issues out in the open calmly.

Having the knowledge to help a friend or family member admit their addiction and seek help to get better can make their recovery successful.

However, it’s important to learn the difference between supporting someone and enabling them, so they don’t fail and start using or drinking again.


You probably already know how important it is to maintain your oral health with the help of a dentist to avoid tooth decay and for early disease detection. But which dentist should you trust with this responsibility?

There are number of factors to consider when choosing a family dentist such as Shirer Family Dentistry, Aiken, SC. It comes down to more than just know-how – you have to be comfortable in their chair. Furthermore, if you’re not comfortable during check ups, the dentist should find ways to make that visit easier on you.

Of course, your dentist should be more than competent and know how to handle a range of oral health issues, but there is more to dentistry than that. Here are some other things to look for when it comes to selecting a dentist that you can form a long-term professional relationship with.

It’s About Personal Connection

A good dentist shouldn’t make you dread your up coming appointment. Going to the dentist doesn’t always have to fit the definition of fun, but the dental team should do what it can to make you feel welcome and comfortable in their practice.

It’s more than just how you feel while you’re in the dentist’s chair. When you enter a dental office, you should be greeted warmly – and by name if it’s not your first visit. That’s something Shirer Family Dentistry takes very seriously. As one patient said about their experience at this particular dental office, “From the moment you walk in the door you feel welcomed and comfortable.”

Some dentists may take a clinical approach to dentistry, meaning they’re focused on quickly diagnosing the problem and applying a solution. While this isn’t a bad approach, it can also leave you feeling a bit cold. Dentists that love what they’re doing not only apply their technical skills, but their social skills as well. You should feel like you’re having a conversation with a friend during a procedure! As another patient pointed out about Shirer Family Dentistry, “Found a new home for all my dental services and I am excited to now have a dentist that is sociable, friendly, outgoing and truly loves interacting with patients.”

Speaking of connection, Shirer Family Dentistry, has a husband and wife dentist team that brings their unique personalities and skills to each patient. They consult with one another about the best approaches and what’s best for patients.

Having a male and female dentist on staff also allows patients to choose one based on their own comfort and preferences.

Aside from personable dentists and hygienists, you should also choose a dentist that has a helpful front desk team. They should be able to clearly communicate when your appointments are and work around your schedule, while also making payment easy and helping you file an insurance claim if need be.

Shirer Family Dentistry in Aiken, SC prides themselves on their amazing team members. From their front office to the hygienist and assistants, Drs. Michael and Susannah Shirer have often said they are blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing and competent group of people. The patients love seeing their friendly faces and it makes the office a fun place hearing the team joke with each other and the dentists laughing and having fun while working. It’s good to see so many smiles in a dental office – in this one, it’s not only the patients who are smiling, it’s the team. They truly love what they do!

Choose a Dentist That Explains Procedures

When you know more about something, you’re less likely to be afraid of it. That’s no different for dentists and dental procedures. You should choose a dentist that not only knows how to perform complicated dental procedures but can also inform you beforehand about why it’s needed and what you can expect during your procedure.

Just like you will find at Shirer Family Dentistry, many dentists now use digital on-screen displays so they can show you detailed results of x-rays and where any problem areas are. That way, you know they’re handling your personal oral care properly and not just delivering a prescribed treatment without rationale.

Whether it’s simply a cavity that needs to be filled or you need a complete reconstruction, you should know the work will be explained to you and any of your questions answered. This is one thing that sets Shirer Family Dentistry apart from the rest. They take copious amounts of time to get to know their patients, what they want from their dental visit, and how to best approach their unique dental situation to give them the best outcome. Patients feel comfortable discussing things with the doctors at Shirer Family Dentistry because they are approachable and connect with their patients.

They Should Help Ease Dental Anxiety

You might be avoiding the dentist altogether, as the case is for many people. In fact, some estimates say that almost 75 percent of Americans have some level of discomfort in the dental chair. You might even have a dental phobia that makes it very uncomfortable during even simple procedures, even when the dental team is friendly and gentle. Or you may have a pronounced gag reflex that brands some procedures significantly harder to deal with.

While staying with the same dentist over a long-term period can help build some trust and help you feel more relaxed during visits, sometimes other measures need to be taken to ensure you’re comfortable. That’s where sedation dentistry comes in.

Some dental offices like Shirer Family Dentistry offer you the option of being sedated during a procedure to ease your nerves. There are a few ways a dentist can offer this including nitrous oxide and oral sedation. The first option is a gas that wears off quickly when the mask is removed. Oral sedation means you take medication to help you relax, but the effects can last much longer than nitrous oxide.

With the right sedation technique, visits to the dentist will become less scary (and you may even find yourself falling asleep in the chair).

“I used to have a lot of dental anxiety, and I don’t have that problem anymore since I’ve been going to this office,” said a patient about Shirer Family Dentistry.

Shirer Family Dentistry, Aiken, SC – Focuses on Prevention

There are a few more points to consider when you’re choosing your dentist. How thoroughly do they clean your teeth? How much education do they give you to maintain your oral health at home between visits? How early do they detect potential issues?

Prevention means you’ll likely avoid more complicated procedures, and you’ll have less chance of a dental emergency. (Your dentist should be able to book you in promptly.)

Make sure your dentist is comfortable with all age groups including children and seniors and can even provide orthodontic care and dentures if necessary. All of this is the case at Shirer Family Dentistry in Aiken, SC.

One thing is for sure – you should leave feeling like you’ve just had a positive experience that’s beneficial for your health.

To find out more about finding the right dentist or to book an appointment with the professionals at Shirer Family Dentistry, contact the office today.


There are dozens of cosmetic procedures available all across the world to make almost any type of adjustment a person could want. Despite the popularity of cosmetic surgery, it’s still common to hear myths about different procedures and the people who get them. For decades, people looked down on plastic surgery and considered it to be a taboo topic. Because of this attitude, it was incredibly easy to spread negative rumors about plastic surgery. Choosing to get plastic surgery is a big decision to make, so it’s important to have accurate information about it. False information could make people afraid to get plastic surgery and create harmful stereotypes about those who do. Anyone looking to get plastic surgery done should know the common myths that people spread about plastic surgery.

If you’re thinking about getting plastic surgery, here are 10 common myths debunked.

1. Myth: Cosmetic surgery is the same as plastic surgery

Fact: At some point, you’ve likely heard someone use cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery about the same procedure. While these are usually used interchangeably, they are actually two different types of surgery.  Although you likely won’t be called out for using one instead of the other, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. Cosmetic surgery typically refers to procedures to enhance the appearance of the body and is usually done mostly for aesthetic reasons. Plastic surgery tends to be more complicated surgeries. In plastic surgery, body parts are reconstructed for many reasons, they could be cosmetic or medical reasons. Additionally, anyone with a medical license can call themselves a plastic surgeon, even if they have no specific training or experience to perform it. You want the best care when you’re getting plastic surgery, so it’s important that you get treatment from someone with the right training.

2. Myth: Only women get plastic surgery

Fact: If you take a look at tabloid magazines, you’ll find a woman in there somewhere with people speculating whether or not she’s had work done. Something that would be difficult for you to find is anything regarding a man getting plastic surgery. Many people would never suspect if a man got plastic surgery because they assume that it’s something largely meant only for women. In reality, more and more men are deciding to get plastic surgery. There are very few plastic surgeries that are meant for only female patients. For most procedures, they could be performed just as easily on men. This is an important myth to get rid of so that men who want plastic surgery feel just as comfortable getting it as a woman would.

3. Myth: Results from procedures last forever

Fact: You’ll find that with many plastic surgeries you’ll have to get routine maintenance done to keep the same affect. Most procedures aren’t intended to last forever. Procedures like dermal fillers can only use a certain amount of injections to be safe. Also, many injections are meant to be absorbed by your body. While this makes them safer for you to have in your body, it does require you to get them more often if it’s something you want to continue to keep up. A lot of common procedures will need touch ups from anywhere between three months to a year. Some can even last for up to a decade before you need to follow up. For some procedures, after the first few treatments, the subsequent procedures typically require less to achieve the same results.

4. Myth: Fat comes back after liposuction

Fact: While many procedures aren’t meant to last forever, liposuction actually does give you permanent results. When you get liposuction done, fat cells are being removed from your body. Early in our lives, our body stops producing new fat cells, so while these cells can grow and cause you to gain weight, your body won’t grow any new cells. This way, when fat cells are removed with liposuction, those cells will never come back to the body. However, if you were to have a substantial weight gain in the rest of your body, the results of liposuction would be much less noticeable. Fat cells remaining in that area can still grow if the person gained a lot of weight after the procedure. A person can still gain a small amount of weight after liposuction and still keep the same result.

5. Myth: Liposuction fixes cellulite

Fact: Cellulite is a common issue among people of all different weights. More women have cellulite than men and its most commonly found around the thighs. Cellulite is caused by fat deposits pushing through the surface of the skin. Because of this, cellulite is typically associated with having an excess of fat. Many people who have cellulite assume that once they have liposuction done, the cellulite will be treated as well. If you think that cellulite is only caused by fat, this makes sense. However, cellulite is actually caused by the skin. This is also why older people are more likely to have cellulite, as their skin loses elasticity as they age. When fat is removed during liposuction, it doesn’t have any effect on the texture of your skin. There are procedures that can help reduce the amount of cellulite someone has, but thinking that liposuction will help it is an unrealistic expectation to have.

6. Myth: Liposuction is good for weight loss

Fact: One of the most common misconceptions about liposuction is that it’s intended for weight loss. Liposuction does remove fat from the body, but only in small amounts. No one will have dramatic weight loss results from liposuction. The weight of the fat being removed during liposuction typically doesn’t exceed more than 11 pounds. You might choose to get liposuction in multiple spots, but that will most likely be recommended over time rather than all at once.  Liposuction is only intended to be used for body contouring and spot reduction for small amounts of stubborn fat. Anyone looking to have liposuction done should understand that the procedure won’t have any major impact over their weight. If you’re considering getting liposuction, you should already be at your goal weight.

Image source Wikimedia Commons

7. Myth: Recovery time from plastics surgery is long

Fact: In the past, recovering from plastic surgery was very time consuming and often painful. Due to less invasive procedures replacing very involved plastic surgeries, many plastic surgeries are actually very simple to recover from. The most amount of time most people need to take off from work for the majority of plastic surgery, including breast augmentation, is around two weeks, although it could take a few more weeks to be completely back to normal. There are many procedures that have no recovery time at all. Many are even dubbed as “lunchtime procedures” because they only take around an hour and you can get right back to your normal activities after.  

8. Myth: Plastic surgery is best done outside of hospitals

Fact: When you’re having plastic surgery done, you’ll find some doctors who will do procedures in their office and some who perform in a hospital setting instead. Some doctors will make in-office procedures out to be a more attractive option, as a hospital can seem too clinical. For many types of plastic surgery, you might not see any reason to have to go into a hospital if the procedure isn’t very invasive. While it might not seem serious, you should receive plastic surgery in a hospital if you’re able to. Anytime you’re undergoing a medical procedure, it’s important that you have immediate access to the right medical care, which isn’t always available to you in an office. This is especially important if you’re getting anesthesia to ensure that it’s being properly administered.

9. Myth: Plastic surgery doesn’t leave any scars

Fact: Many people who get plastic surgery are having it done for aesthetic reasons. Having a visible scar after plastic surgery wouldn’t be beneficial for most patients. Most think that plastic surgeries are designs to not leave any scar, but most procedures actually do leave some type of scar. However, surgeons place the scar in less conspicuous areas, so it’s easy to believe that there isn’t actually a scar there. For example, scars from nose jobs are typically inside of the nose. More invasive surgeries, like a tummy tuck, will leave a scar, but the scar is placed in an area that will be covered by clothing. If you have plastic surgery, you’ll probably end up with some type of scar, but most people will never know that it’s there.

10. Myth: Getting plastic surgery makes you vain

Fact: People who have plastic surgery are often looked down upon by others for it. Society’s perception of plastic surgery has gotten better in the past few years, but a large majority of people still judge others for it. Since the goal in many plastic surgery cases is to improve someone’s appearance, they’re often thought of as being too concerned with their looks. There are many reasons a person could want plastic surgery, some even require them for medical reasons to improve problems like breathing issues or to reconstruct damaged parts of the body. Even if plastic surgery is done for cosmetic purposes, it could still be very beneficial for that person to help the way they feel about their body.

Drug-resistant malaria parasites have moved from Cambodia to Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, where half of patients are not being cured by first-choice drugs, researchers from the UK and Thailand say.

Researchers say the findings raise the “terrifying prospect” drug-resistance could spread to Africa.

However, experts said the implications may not be as severe as first thought.

Malaria is treated with a combination of two drugs – artemisinin and piperaquine.

The drug combo was introduced in Cambodia in 2008.

However, by 2013, the first cases of the parasite mutating and developing resistance to both drugs were detected, in western parts of the country.

The latest study, published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, analyzed blood samples from patients across South East Asia.

Inspecting the parasite’s DNA showed resistance had spread across Cambodia and was also in Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The parasite had also picked up further mutations, making it even more problematic.

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Malaria spreading to higher altitudes due to warmer temperatures

In some regions, 80% of malaria parasites were drug resistant.

However, it doesn’t mean the disease is becoming untreatable.

A second study, published in the Lancet, showed half of patients were not being cured with standard therapy.

However, there are alternative drugs that can be used instead.

That could include using different drugs alongside artemisinin or using a combination of three drugs to overcome resistance.

Huge progress has been made towards eliminating malaria. However, the development of drug resistance threatens that progress.

The other issue is if the resistance spreads further and reaches Africa, where more than nine in 10 cases of the disease are.

The findings will not change much in people’s day-to-day life in the Greater Mekong Subregion, in South East Asia.

Tackling malaria is about more than just picking the right treatment after an infection.

All the efforts around controlling the mosquitoes that spread the disease will not change.

However, the researchers say the drugs people are given after an infection should change.

The studies also show genetic analysis of malaria parasites can help doctors keep one step ahead of emerging drug-resistance in order to give patients the right treatment.

The spread of resistance is set against the backdrop of falling cases in the region.

In Cambodia there were 262,000 cases of malaria in 2008 and 36,900 in 2018.

There are about 219 million cases of malaria around the world each year.

Symptoms include cycles of feeling cold and shivering followed by a high temperature with severe sweating.

Without treatment, the parasite can lead to breathing problems and organ failure.

Malaria kills about 435,000 people every year – most of them are children under the age of five.


Previously confined to actresses, breast augmentation surgeries are pretty common nowadays. The standards of beauty have risen higher to the point that almost every single woman out there plans to get cosmetic surgery done and breast augmentation is one of them. Women invest in such operations because of their physical insecurities. That is precisely how the beauty industry has grown – benefiting from their insecurities.

However, there is nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself, and that is what breast augmentation does to your body. While many women are getting their breasts implanted, they need to understand several factors before going for breast augmentation. So, without further delay, let talk about these factors.

Image source Wikipedia

Your saggy breasts cannot be fixed with a breast augmentation

The breast augmentation will not help you in getting rid of the saggy breasts. It will lead to more saggy breasts because of the increased volume of the breasts. Be sure to know the type of surgery you need, when do you need it and why. Talking about sagginess, the best procedure for it is mastopexy or breast lift. Get your breast augmentation procedure done from a reputed cosmetic surgeon such as Absolute Cosmetics that deal with all types of surgeries. 

Sooner or later, you will need to replace breast implants

Even though breast augmentation is a safe and generally thought to be a long-lasting solution to your problem, it is not a permanent treatment. The breast implants will only last for a decade or so, after which you have to replace them. People who have gone through the surgery will have to go for annual checkups from time to time. I recommend you do ample research before going through this life-altering procedure.

Don’t think this is a one-time job, expect another surgery in the future

Majority of the people who have done breast augmentation believe that it is a one-time job. Although there is a possibility that you will outlive your implants, you will need another breast surgery in the future.

It isn’t as simple as you think it is

There is a lot of research that pertains to the breast augmentation. You will have to choose several things and finalize the best. From selecting the shape of your breast implants to its texture, you will have to dig into every minor detail before moving ahead.

Breast augmentation takes time to fully mature

What you will see right after the surgery isn’t the final result. The whole procedure takes time to settle down. Initially, you will experience swelling and bruising on the breasts. These may last for a couple of weeks after which your breast implants will fully heal and transform. So, be patient, wait for the desired results, and follow your surgeon’s advice.

Image by diegodiezperez123 from Pixabay

As the uncertainty around Brexit continues, people of all walks of life are exploring the threats and opportunities that leaving the EU will bring.

Those of us that love interior design and restyling our homes would certainly like an idea of what kind of impact Brexit might have on our shopping and styling habits.

Of course there are no firm predictions about what Brexit will mean, but here’s a summary of what’s being said…

Property uncertainty

In the worst case Brexit scenarios, property prices are expected to fall. That’s never good news for homeowners, but for the millions who’ve yet to get on the property ladder, it could bring new opportunities.

Lower prices can often tempt amateur developers into the market, who take on a property that needs a lot of work and transform it into a dream home, adding tens of thousands in value.

In an uncertain market this can be a risky business, but many people have made good money this way. It’s amazing what a modern new kitchen or a stylish bathroom and luxury shower can do!

Price rises post Brexit

Another potential consequence of Brexit is that the value of the pound could fall, which could make buying things more expensive, particularly items that come to the UK from Europe and beyond.

If you’re looking to make some changes to your home, it could make sense to get it done soon.  Don’t wait until the 31 October to buy high value furnishings, for example.

On the flip side, currency fluctuations could be a boost for British designers and manufacturers, as people seek to get the best value on new products for the home.

Brexit as a creativity booster

Of course, there’s also the chance that not much will change after Brexit, depending on the conditions on which we do finally leave… if we do at all!

It’s always wise to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. As we have seen many times before, challenging times can drive creativity and innovation. After all, there are lots of ways to restyle your home on a budget, by embracing new ways to save money and thinking differently.

That might mean adopting a more DIY approach, bringing in some home-made chic, or being a little more minimalist in your style.

Whatever happens, there will always be new style trends to suit every situation, and we’ll be the first to report on them.



Being in the public eye can be a pressure-filled environment, leaving many famous people struggling to handle the stresses and strains.

Creative types, top athletes and many other people cannot handle being in the spotlight, often leading to them suffering with worry, anxiety and depression.

However, by working with professionals to understand these conditions, many celebrities have learned to manage the symptoms and thrive in their respective careers.

Read on as we look at some of the world’s most famous people have managed to conquer anxiety and worry.

Demi Lovato at Elvis Duran Show

Exercise the key for Lovato

Singer Demi Lovato has regularly spoken about her struggles with mental health and says she uses a variety of methods to deal with her anxiety issues.

The founder of the ‘Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health’ initiative, Lovato has regularly opened up about living with bipolar disorder and battling anxiety in the past.

She says that solutions can vary from person to person and has encouraged people not to stay silent about mental health issues.

“I can’t stress enough to vocalize your needs to a great support system – whether it’s your family or even an online community of people who are going through the same thing that you are,” she told the Huffington Post.

“It’s so important to vocalise what you’re dealing with instead of internalising it and letting it manifest into unhealthy behavior. That eventually leads to lifelong problems. That’s the most important thing you can do.

“Exercising is another way I deal with anxiety. Painting, and writing music and expressing myself through art are other ways that I can release emotions. Meditation is another one. Whatever it is, it’s important to find what works for you.”

CBD oil helps athletes manage anxiety

Many professional athletes use CBD oil as a means of recovering from intense exercise, regular training sessions and to control anxiety.

Soreness, tiredness and feelings of nausea are amongst the main side effects of intensive training and restrictions on certain pharmaceuticals make it difficult for athletes to get relief from the symptoms.

With top level sports being a pressure-filled environment, many athletes also suffer bouts of anxiety often brought on by concerns about their injuries or worrying about performance.

Using CBD oil for anxiety is a powerful and natural alternative and many top sportsmen have now switched on to its benefits to manage anxiety and other health problems.

Former Philadelphia Flyers’ star, Riley Cote, founded the Hemp Heals Foundation after retiring from the National Hockey League.

Cote began using CBD as a supplement to treat the physical and mental damage he caused to his body after being in more than 250 hockey fights.

“I quickly realised it wasn’t just helping with my brain health, but it also added another dimension to my sleep, and its subtle calming nature helped with anxiety,” he said.

Performing helps Stone cope

Oscar winner, Emma Stone, says performing on the big screen helps her cope with lifelong anxiety and panic attacks.

Stone struggled with deep separation anxiety as a youngster and was eventually diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

She learned cognitive therapy techniques that helped her cope with anxiety and channel her feelings into productive behaviour.

“I believe the people who have anxiety and depression are very, very sensitive and very, very smart,” she said.

“Because the world is hard and scary and there’s a lot that goes on and if you’re very attuned to it, it can be crippling.

“But if you don’t let it cripple you and use it for something productive, it’s like a superpower.”

Today, she manages her anxiety with therapy, meditation, being with others and keeping busy. She also steers clear of social media to ensure she avoids putting herself in difficult situations.

Lady Gaga

Helping others keeps Gaga grounded

Lady Gaga has been open about her experiences with mental illness, particularly in light of being a survivor of assault.

She takes medication to manage her depression, but freely admits that talking about the problem is the key to her wellbeing.

The ‘Star is Born’ actress created the Born This Way Foundation in 2012 to build empowered communities and improve mental health resources for young adults.

Gaga believes that mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health, and insists that talking about it can really help.

“I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life – I still suffer with it every single day,” she said.

“I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal. We were born that way. This modern thing, where everyone is feeling shallow and less connected? That‘s not human.

“I think it’s better when we all say: ‘Cheers!’ And ‘fess up to it.”

Fish urges people to talk

In 2012, tennis star Mardy Fish began suffering from anxiety attacks so serious that he had to withdraw before a match against Rodger Federer at the US Open.

His anxiety ultimately led him to retiring from the sport, but therapy, medication and talking openly about his mental-health difficulties have proved to be a life-saver.

“Mental health is not a very easy thing to talk about in sports,” he told the Players’ Tribune. “It’s not perceived as very masculine.

“We’re so trained to be ‘mentally tough,’ in sports. To show weakness, we’re told, in so many words, is to deserve shame.”

Fish has refused to be defined by anxiety disorder and has found his way back into tennis as captain of the US Davis Cup team.

He believes that his previous experiences make him well-equipped to help the current crop of players deal with the pressures of representing their country.

“To be the Davis Cup captain, the next Davis Cup captain, I’m incredibly humbled,” Fish said. “I can’t even express how excited I am, how excited I am that the players have supported the decision.

“The friendships I’ve made throughout the years, relationships of all the players, not just the top players, is very special.”


According to a recent study, the popular herbal extract ginkgo biloba may help the brain recover after a stroke.

The supplement, available in health food shops or pharmacies all over the world, is used in China to aid memory and fight depression.

In a trial of 330 stroke patients over six months in China, ginkgo biloba was linked with better cognitive skill scores on tests.

However, experts say the evidence for ginkgo is too weak to recommend it.

Those behind the study – published in the online journal Stroke & Vascular Neurology – admit that larger, longer and more robust trials are needed.

The small study was carried out by Nanjing University Medical School, with patients from five Chinese hospitals.

All 330 participants began the trial within a week of having an ischemic stroke. The average age of the patients was 64.

Roughly half of them were given 450mg of ginkgo biloba daily, in addition to 100mg of aspirin, while the remainder were given only the aspirin.

During a stroke, the blood supplying vital parts of the brain is interrupted, often leading to impaired memory and a decline in organizational and reasoning skills among stroke survivors.

Researchers wanted to see if combining ginkgo biloba with aspirin might help lessen or halt the cognitive decline.

Image source Public Domain Pictures

Previous experimental studies in animals have suggested that ginkgo biloba protects against the nerve cell death associated with blood clots in the brain, possibly by increasing blood flow in the cerebral arteries.

All the participants took a neuropsychological test (Montreal Cognitive Assessment) at the start of the trial, and then 12, 30, 90 and 180 days later, to check for any cognitive impairment.

The results showed that those taking the combination of aspirin and ginkgo biloba had higher scores for cognitive skills, including memory and reasoning, than those who weren’t.

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Speech problems and muscle strength also improved more rapidly, with indications of improved functional capacity 12 and 30 days after the start of treatment. However, both the clinicians and the patients knew which treatment they had been assigned to, which may have skewed the results, and the monitoring period was not very long.

Ginkgo biloba is one of the oldest living tree species.

According to researchers, the extract used in the study contained more protective, and fewer harmful, chemicals than the extract typically used in previous studies.

Few side-effects were reported during the trial.

The participants were subsequently monitored for nearly two years, with little difference in the vascular health of the two groups: 16 people in the combined treatment group, and 20 in the aspirin group had further problems, including recurrent stroke and aneurysm.

However, longer term studies looking at stroke severity are necessary, before any more definitive conclusions can be reached.


The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a national level nursing exam conducted in Canada and the United States for checking the knowledge and eligibility of nursing graduates before licensing them. This test is taken up by the individuals after completion of their graduation from nursing school to acquire the nursing license. The NCLEX exams are conducted by the NCSBN – National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc. Acquiring licenses through the test gives the candidates permission to practice nursing in the above mentioned countries.

There are two types of the NCLEX test:

a) NCLEX-RN: National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses

b) NCLEX-PN: National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses

In this article, we will explore the test for the practical nurses.

NCLEX-PN: Overview

To acquire the licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), the individuals must pass the NCLEX Prep exam. It tests the candidate’s knowledge, abilities, and skills at the entry level to see if they are fit for the safe and effective practice of nursing. This test comes in the format of Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT). This technology is based on how one answered the previous question. The questions asked in the NCLEX-PN exam are based on the extensive nursing material, and according to this, the individuals are graded based on how intuitively they answer these questions.

NCLEX-PN: Exam Format

The question format of the NCLEX-PN test is multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, putting the steps in correct order, selection of correct answers from a list of various options, identification of correct area on a picture, information about a chart, graph, or an audio clip.

Due to the Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) feature of the exam, each candidate will have a different form of the test. This ensures different questions being asked to different students depending on how they answered the previous question. According to the CAT feature, each individual can get any number of questions between 75 and 265. Out of the first 75 questions answered by the candidates only 60 will make it to grading. The remaining 15 are asked on experimental basis to see if they are worthy to be asked in future exams, and these questions will not be added during grading the students.

The maximum time set for this exam is 6 hours with two 10-minute breaks: a mandatory one is after 2 and a half hours and an optional one – after 4 hours. The applicants are also free to take breaks whenever they wish in-between the test, but they will have to compensate it with the exam time.

Image source: Public Domain Files

NCLEX-PN: Subjects

NCLEX-PN exam focuses on four main subjects relating to the nursing field. Under these four main subjects, there are sub-sections as well. All the information regarding them is as follows:

1. Safe Effective Care Environment: It has two sub-sections, which include:

a) Coordinated Care: The practical/vocational nurse coordinated with the health care team members to provide proper and potent care to the patients. Other related subjects under this section are Advance Directives, Establishing Priorities, Advocacy, Ethical Practice, Client Care Assignments, Informed Consent, Client Rights, Information Technology, Collaboration with Interdisciplinary Team, Legal Responsibilities, Performance Improvement, Information Security, Referral Process, Continuity of Care, Resource Management, Concepts of Management and Supervision, and etc.

b) Infection Control and Safety: In this context, the practical/vocational nurse helps the clients and heath care personnel against health and environmental hazards. Other related subjects under this section are Accident/Injury/Error Prevention, Least Restrictive Restraints and Safety Devices, Emergency Response Plan, Safe Use of Equipment, Ergonomic Principles, Security Plan, Infectious Materials and Handling Hazardous, Home Safety, Standard, Precautions/Transmission-Based Precautions/Surgical Asepsis, Reporting of Incident/Irregular Variance/Occurrence, and so on.

2. Health Promotion and Maintenance: The practical/vocational nurse in this aspect helps the patients/clients with the information of health issues, stages of their growth and development, prevention or how they can be detected in early stages, and so on. It includes Aging Process, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, Ante/Intra/Postpartum and Newborn Care, High Risk Behaviors, Data Collection Techniques, Lifestyle Choices, Developmental Stages and Transitions, Self-care, Community Resources, and etc.

3. Psychosocial Integrity: The practical/vocational nurse in the psychosocial aspect assists in aiding mental and emotional support to the patients suffering due to any kind of illness.This also includes some aspects, such as Abuse or Neglect, Mental Health Concepts, Behavioral Management, Spiritual and Religious Influences on Health, End-of-Life Concepts, Chemical Dependencies, Coping Mechanisms, Therapeutic Communication, Perceptual/Sensory Alterations, Stress Management, Support Systems, Crisis Intervention, Cultural Awareness, Therapeutic Environment, etc.

4. Physiological Integrity: In the physiological integrity aspects, the practical/vocational nurse helps by assisting in the encouragement of physical health and overall well-being of the patients by providing them care and comfort. This aspect covers four more sub-sections.

a) Basic Care and Comfort: In this section, the practical/vocational nurse helps the patient coordinate with the daily activities. This includes some aspects like Personal Hygiene, Assistive Devices, Rest and Sleep, Nutrition and Oral Hydration, Elimination, Immobility/Mobility, Non-pharmacological Comfort Interventions, and so on.

b) Pharmacological Therapies: This is related to the medicine administration and parental therapies. It involves aspects, such as Expected Outcomes/Actions, Medication Administration, Dosage Calculations, Pharmacological Pain Management, and etc.

c) Reduction of Risk Potential: This aspect deals with the potentials of complications arising from already present health issues, its treatments and procedures. It also comprises Diagnostic Tests, Abnormalities/Changes in Vital Signs, Laboratory Values, Potential for Alterations in Body Systems, Potential for Complications of Diagnostic Tests/Procedures/Treatments, Potential for Complications from Surgical Procedures and Health Alterations, Therapeutic Procedures, and etc.

d) Physiological Adaptation: In this matter, the practical/vocational nurse helps the patients who are suffering from acute, life-threatening or chronic physical health conditions and takes care of them during their presence in the health care centre. It also involves Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances, Medical Emergencies, Alterations in Body Systems, Basic Pathophysiology, Unexpected Response to Therapies, and so on.

To be informed about the registration and exam preparation, visit the webpage of the NCLEX test.


All evidence indicates that cardiovascular disease continues to be a top killer for Americans.

We’ve talked before about cardiovascular disease – heart disease – and some of the ways in which you can beat it. Today, let’s dig into the statistics about heart disease, and try to learn more about the underlying causes and what we can do about it.

1). The Cardiovascular Disease Body Count

Cardiovascular disease is the top killer, the leading cause of death, for men and for women in the United States. According to the CDC, it kills about 610,000 people a year – 1 in every 4 deaths.

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, and it accounts for over 370,000 deaths out of the 610,000.

Additionally, about 790,000 Americans have a heart attack every year, and by far the most important cause is coronary artery disease.

These statistics are grim. What’s behind them?

2). Who is At Risk?

There are a number of different risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Three of the most important are 1) high blood pressure, 2) high cholesterol, and 3) smoking.

Some 49% of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. However, there are other risk factors which can also contribute significantly to cardiovascular disease: diabetes; being overweight or obese; having a poor diet; a lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol use.

Many of the above risk factors feed into high blood pressure and/or high cholesterol, and thus may lead to cardiovascular disease.

3). Symptoms – What to Look For if You Might Have Cardiovascular Disease

Since cardiovascular disease describes a variety of conditions, there are a number of different symptoms to look for.

Some people experience pain, tightness, pressure, and discomfort in the chest, known as angina. Shortness of breath is another major symptom.

Sometimes people with heart disease suffer from pain, numbness, weakness, or coldness in the legs or the arms – this happens when the blood vessels in those areas become narrowed.

People also experience neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen, and back pain as a result of cardiovascular disease.

There are also some general differences between men and women: where men are more likely to suffer from chest pain, women are more likely to suffer from shortness of breath, nausea, and extreme fatigue. 

Whatever the case, if you or a loved one are suffering from any of these symptoms, seek professional medical advice.

Heart arrythmias are another cluster of symptoms. Fluttering in the chest, racing heartbeat, slow heartbeat, dizziness, and fainting or near fainting are a few symptoms you might experience if you have cardiovascular disease.

Whatever your symptoms, it’s a good idea to follow up with a doctor and get professional help. It’s in your best interest to make sure you catch heart disease as soon as possible for the best chances of treatment.

4). Treatment – How to Deal With Cardiovascular Disease

There are a great many different treatments for cardiovascular disease. They range in ease from lifestyle changes to medication to major surgery.

Taking a best-case scenario, if the patient’s condition is due to lifestyle issues rather than genetic issues and it is discovered early, lifestyle changes and perhaps a medication could result in a reversal of the issues causing the disease. In this scenario, it is easy to imagine that there would be no lasting damage.

In other cases, arteries blocked by plaque may require angioplasty, a surgery to open the arteries, or balloon valvuloplasty, a procedure which requires less cutting than traditional surgery. In more severe cases, heart bypass surgery may be necessary.

A procedure called cardioversion, or electrical cardioversion, uses electricity to restore normal rhythm in damaged heart muscle.

There are many other treatments for cardiovascular disease, and the treatment needed will depend on both the patient’s condition and how severe it is.

5). Prevention – Reducing Your Chances of Cardiovascular Disease

As frightening as cardiovascular disease is, there are a number of tried and true strategies for preventing it. Although some cases of heart disease are the result of congenital issues (birth defects), the vast majority are preventable because they are caused by lifestyle choices.

These same lifestyle choices can also play a very important role in helping to treat the condition.

As we saw above, smoking is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease. This points to one of the most important strategies for preventing cardiovascular disease: quitting smoking.

Controlling other, potentially contributing health conditions is another way in which to prevent cardiovascular disease. In particular, it is important to control high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, both through medications and healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Eating a diet that is heart-healthy – in particular, low in salt and not fattening – is another important step.

Maintaining physical activity is also an important preventive strategy.

As the CRT Meeting for Interventional Cardiology states: “Preventing cardiovascular disease through appropriate health and fitness behaviors is always the optimal personal health plan.”


The reason cardiovascular disease continues to tragically claim so many American lives is that too many Americans are not maintaining good health. Through good diet, a modest amount of physical activity, and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, most Americans can avoid cardiovascular disease.


Preventing pregnancy is a top concern for many women, but sometimes finding the right type of birth control can seem daunting. You will not only have to consider the possible side effects of some contraceptives but also decide which method will best fit into your lifestyle so that it can be used consistently and effectively. The good news is that there are multiple types of contraceptives, so you can find one to fit your specific needs. 

Birth Control Pills

Image via Flickr by mr.paille

Probably one of the most well-known types of birth control used is a contraceptive pill. Birth control pills are taken daily and work in a number of ways to prevent pregnancy from occurring. They have one of the highest effective rates with perfect use, meaning that you never miss a dose and take your dose close to the same time each day. You can choose from combination pills or progestin-only pills, often referred to as a mini pill.


Barrier devices help to prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it. Barrier methods can also be used with spermicide to increase effectiveness, and are highly effective when used correctly and consistently. Some of the most commonly used barrier devices include:

  • Male condoms: The device is made of polyurethane or latex and is placed over the male genital organ before the beginning of sexual intercourse. It is easy to obtain, highly effective, and also helps prevent the transmission of many STDs. 
  • Female condoms: This barrier method is made of polyurethane and works by fixing one ring behind the pubic bone and leaving the other ring outside of the vagina. They are about as effective as a male condom, though they can be more difficult to find.
  • Diaphragm: This barrier method is used in conjunction with spermicide and is a dome-shaped device that is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix. It will need to be put in place before sexual intercourse and is highly effective, especially when used with a spermicide. 


Another highly effective method that is ideal for those who have a problem remembering birth control is the depo shot. The shot is progestin-only, making it suitable for those who have had problems with estrogen-based birth control. It works by preventing the release of an egg and is one of the most effective methods when administered in the required time frame. You will need to have the injection every three months to maintain efficiency. 


Intrauterine devices are small, T-shaped, flexible devices that are placed into the uterus by a physician. One type of IUD is a copper IUD which releases toxins that kill sperm and can be effective for up to 10 years. You can also choose hormonal IUDs which release progestin and keep the sperm from reaching the egg by thickening the cervical mucus and thinning the walls of the uterus. They have a slim failure rate and can last for three to 10 years, depending on the type you choose. 

Choosing the right birth control option is personal, but an important decision. If you are unsure which method is right for you, have a discussion with your health provider about which method will best suit your lifestyle. 


– New data suggests that both elderly people and young children can benefit from getting together to do activities –

Living in a multi-generational household is less common than it used to be so it is less likely that older and younger generations spend much time together. With the busy lives of most families, even seeing grandparents might be a challenge and so children and grandparents miss out on that all important bonding time. Families are also more dispersed so different generations might not live near each other, but the importance of inter-generational contact remains.

The Live-in Care Hub is a not-for-profit organisation committed to raising the quality of elderly care in the UK and they are keen advocates of a better quality of life for older people. They have, therefore, been highlighting the benefits of inter-generational contact and joint activities.

The Benefits Of Older And Younger Generations Spending Time Together

There are many benefits for different generations spending time together including, but not limited to:

  • Both age groups can learn new skills from each other
  • Both age groups can learn about relevant aspects of their different generations
  • Older people have a sense of purpose and children feel a sense of doing something for others
  • Children gain an understanding of the elderly and growing older
  • Children may lose any fear of the elderly they have
  • The older adults can avoid loneliness
  • Depression and other mental health issues may be alleviated in older adults
  • Older adults may see improvements in physical health
  • Older adults with dementia may see some symptoms reduce
  • Older adults provide a patient and understanding ear to children who have plenty to share

Activities That Benefit Both Generations

There are some really enjoyable activities than can benefit both parties and encourage great relationships to develop:

  • Gardening
  • Reading to each other
  • Learning a new hobby
  • Sharing stories (real or make believe)
  • Singing and dancing
  • Preparing and cooking a meal
  • Art and sketching

Dominique Kent, Joint Founder of the Live-In Care Hub, is a passionate advocate for better elderly care in the UK. “We know from our research that one-to-one care at home with a live-in carer results in better health and wellbeing for the vast majority of elderly people. Live-in care also enables better contact with all generations of a family in a familiar home environment where routines and meal times can easily be altered to accommodate young children.

With live-in care there are no restrictions imposed to prevent people enjoying life as fully as possible. So it is important that older people understand that care in their own home is a viable option.”

The Live-In Care Hub carry out independent research and their website offers practical tips, advice and support to those seeking elderly care for themselves or for a relative. Find out more at www.liveincarehub.co.uk.


Fiber is something we need daily in our diet to maintain proper health. In this article, we will discuss what fiber is, why we need it, and how we can have it in our lives. Fiber is a carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. It helps our bodies regulate blood sugar and keeps our hunger levels in check. Fiber has many health benefits and we can obtain fiber through food or supplements.

There are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be dissolved in water. It has been shown to lower glucose and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber will not dissolve in water. It helps food to move more quickly through the digestive system and helps to regulate the body and prevent constipation. Insoluble fiber keeps an optimal pH level in the intestines by preventing microbes from producing substances that may cause cancer in the colon.

Image source: Wikimedia

Typically, Americans only consume 15 grams of fiber per day. Recommendations for adult men is 30 to 38 grams per day. Women should consume at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day. The recommendations for children, ages one to eight, is that children should consume at least 19-25 grams of fiber per day. Young teenage boys, under the age of 18, should consume at least 31-38 grams of fiber per day. Girls, under the age of 18, should consume at least 26 grams per day. Today, children can be given fiber gummies for kids to help meet the daily requirement. Adults can also include fiber gummies daily to meet their fiber requirement.

Having fiber in our diets helps reduce the risk of conditions. Daily intake of fiber can protect against heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Type 2 diabetes can be regulated with fiber by controlling blood sugar levels. Diverticular disease, or inflammation of the intestine, and constipation can be controlled with fiber intake by helping to speed up the elimination of toxins in the intestines. Research has been conducted and shows great promise for those who have asthma might have incurred fewer symptoms with increased fiber intake. Increasing fiber will also help to achieve a healthy weight and possibly live a longer life.

Fiber can be found in beans, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pears, avocados, bananas, beets and carrots and fortified foods such as cereals. Soluble fiber can be found in oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, and apples. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat, brown rice, legumes, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Supplements can be added to daily diets to help increase fiber intake. These supplements can bump up the levels in addition to food consumption.

The ways to obtain more fiber in our diets start with eating breakfast with at least 5 or more grams of fiber per day. Just adding some wheat bran to the morning breakfast cereal or oatmeal will help. Whole grains should be added to the daily diet by having at least 2 grams per serving. This can be switching to whole grain loaves of bread or cereals instead of white loaves of bread or sugared cereals. We should incorporate more legumes, lentils, fruits, and vegetables into our daily diets. It is recommended that at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables should be in our daily diet. Baked foods can be “bulked up,” with using whole grain flours, bran, or oatmeal in place of white flours and helps to increase our fiber intake. Snacking on nuts or dried fruits will also increase fiber intake. With all this increased fiber intake, drinking lots of water is encouraged to help aid the fiber through our systems. This helps to clean our digestive systems of the harmful substances that cause diseases.

By increasing the fiber in our diets, whether through food or supplements, fiber can help regulate our bodies and improve our health. Ideally, getting the proper fiber levels through consuming fiber-rich food is what we should be getting on a daily basis. This can be achieved by concentrating our diets on fiber-rich foods and using supplements as needed to obtain better health.


In the course of your lifetime, you have probably heard much on the benefits of eating yogurt for gut health simply because it is rich in probiotics. You were raised on the notion that probiotics can aid in digestion by restoring balance to the intestines and that may, indeed, be the case. Some people who don’t like yogurt, or choose not to eat it often enough or in sufficient quantity to be effective, might even be taking probiotic supplements.

With the right supplements, this is all well and good, but get the wrong supplements and you could literally be adding insult to injury. You may actually have a probiotic intolerance or you might be ingesting probiotics that send your system into overload. Here is some of what you should know about the link between histamine (the body’s response to allergens or injury) and probiotics.

A Word About Intolerance to Probiotics

Before going any further, it is important to understand how someone could possibly be intolerant to probiotics which are nothing more than proteins! Actually, did you know that allergens are proteins? From the foods we eat to the pollen and animal dander that causes the symptoms of allergies, the culprit is proteins in the substance. That’s the plain and simple truth.

Taking that one step further, consider the current confusion about gluten intolerance and how so many people have simply stopped eating bread or foods with wheat that contain gluten. Are you aware of the fact that gluten is the protein in wheat that gives bread its pliability and causes it to be soft and not grainy? Few people are actually gluten intolerant but experience symptoms because they consume way too much of this questionable substance. The same holds true of probiotics, and with less than 1% of the population truly probiotic intolerant, the symptoms of intolerance could very well stem from one or two issues.

The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ugly

Actually, there are good guys and bad guys like in any great crime mystery, and your job is to determine which probiotics are causing the symptoms you are experiencing. Sites like Vitamonk give a great explanation of which probiotics aid in gut health along with a list of those you should avoid. Check those on the taboo list and you will find that some or all of them are in the supplements you thought would aid in digestion.

Digestion isn’t the only issue you may be faced with when taking the wrong probiotics. Probiotics will trigger the body to produce histamines which counteract an allergic response or aid in the healing process when the body is injured. Unfortunately, those on the no-no list cause the body to produce too much histamine which starts a chain reaction that isn’t at all good. The body recognizes an invader and immediately begins producing even more histamine and this cycle continues until it is no longer tasked with digesting those probiotics. Those are the ones to avoid in supplements you take.

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water!

In the end, you are likely to simply discard the notion of taking probiotics at all. That would be a grave mistake! The right probiotics found on sites like Vitamonk can trigger just the right amount of histamine to be produced. The ‘good guys’ will, indeed, foster gut health as well as reducing or eliminating the symptoms of allergies.

Your key takeaway here is that you’d be making a grave error in judgment if you throw the baby out with the bathwater. The ‘baby’ would be those beneficial probiotics and those are the ones you need. By all means take supplements, but only those considered to be low-histamine probiotics. Too much of a good thing or ingesting the wrong probiotics is just as bad (or worse!) than taking none at all. Go low-histamine and you are literally good to go.


If you’re concerned about your health, you probably read the label when buying groceries. It’s a great way to find out how much fat, salt, and sugar are in a product you’re putting in your body.

But often people buy cosmetics and skincare products based on what the pretty labels promise, not what the products actually contain. It’s understandable — many labels feature a dozen ingredients or more, and you probably don’t recognise half the words! But understanding skincare labels is important because your skin is absorbent and those ingredients could end up in your bloodstream.

So, here’s a handy 5-step guide to deciphering the ingredients list on skincare products so you can make healthy choices:

Step 1: Check concentration levels

Ingredients on skincare labels are listed in descending order of concentration. So, ingredients at the top are present in high concentrations, while those at the bottom might barely be present. To be listed at all, an ingredient must make up 2% or more of the product.

This is important to know because the part of the label that is marketing a product to you may conflict with its ingredients. If you’re thinking of buying a moisturiser because the label has pictures of macadamias on it, check the label. If macadamia oil is near the bottom of the list, there may only be a very small amount present.

Instead, you want to see the most potent ingredients at the top of the list!

Look our for toxic preservatives

Almost all skincare products contain water, so some kind of preservative is needed to prevent bacterial contamination.

One of the most common preservatives used is paraben. This is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been linked to increased breast cancer risk and potential reproductive problems for men. Keep an eye out for methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben — if you see those on the ingredients list, don’t buy.

It’s entirely possible to preserve skincare products without parabens. Natural skincare companies like Okana use weak acids to slow bacterial growth. Sometimes these preservatives don’t even need to be added because they occur naturally in other ingredients. For example, one of the preservatives in Okana’s Apple Juice Foaming Cleanser is an amino acid derived from apples.

Step 3: Learn a little Latin

There may be words on the ingredients list you don’t recognise. If they look like they could be spells from Harry Potter, they are probably Latin words. Generally, these are the scientific names for botanical ingredients. For example, hamamelis virginiana is American witch hazel and aloe barbedensis is a naturally growing aloe plant used make aloe vera.

Generally, natural ingredients like these are good but if you’re unsure your might want to check online For example, borago officinalis or star-flower can be used to treat a range of skin conditions but can also have harmful side effects for some people.

Step 4: Check chemical names

It’s easy to feel cautious when you see chemical names on an ingredients list, but don’t assume the worst straight away. After all, the scary-sounding dihydrogen monoxide is simply water, while sodium anisate is completely natural chemical obtained from anise and fennel.

But there are plenty of chemical names you should avoid. You can always look up ingredients on your phone if you’re unsure but a few key chemicals to look out for are:

  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Oxybenzone
  • Aminophenol
  • Diaminobenzene
  • Phenylenediamine
  • Triclosan
  • Triclocarban
  • Petroleum distillates
  • Dibutyl phthalate
  • Toluene
  • Hydroquinone
  • Formaldehyde

Step 5: Avoid added fragrances

We all like nice smells, but when they’re created with artificial fragrances alarm bells should ring.

Some fragrances may be composed from essential oils or flower extracts, while others are cocktails of chemicals — including known carcinogens and irritants. The problem is, a regulatory loophole allows companies to avoid listing the actual ingredients that make the ‘fragrance’ listed in the label.

As with second-hand smoke, fragrances can be harmful to both users and bystanders, especially are in sprays or misting products. Immediate effects from chemical fragrances can include contact dermatitis and severe headaches, and long-term health risks are a real possibility.

Studies have found up to 4% of the general population are sensitized to typical fragrance ingredients. In New Zealand, that’s nearly a quarter of a million people!

Find a brand you can trust

If you want to spare yourself reading through ingredients lists every time you buy a skincare product, find a brand you can trust and stick to it. Okana is a great choice because the company is a committed natural skincare company that avoids thickeners, stabilizers, fragrances, and synthetic preservatives altogether.

In fact, Okana is one of the only skincare companies in the world to consistently use advanced self-preserving formulas and food-grade ingredients for mass production. Most Okana products contain just a handful of natural ingredients, so you get products that are potent and safe.


A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended that all United States Doctors should be screening patients for alcohol abuse. This recommendation is an update from the previous guidance set forth in 2013 which stated that screening should take place if alcohol misuse was suspected.

Alcohol misuse, according to the previous study, was used to define a wide range of drinking behaviors including risky alcohol use, harmful alcohol use, and alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction.The most recent update to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation on alcohol screenings states that individuals that are suspected of any unhealthy alcohol use should be screened. The study found, “the net benefit of screening and brief behavioral counseling interventions for unhealthy alcohol use in adults, including pregnant women, is moderate.” Evidence from the study is insufficient to determine a balance between the benefits and harms associated with screening and brief counseling for unhealthy alcohol use in adolescents.

Image source: Pexels

Excluding the cost of providing assessment, the recommendations of the USPSTF that all doctors offer risk assessment screening for alcohol use, is based on both benefits and potential harms associated with the service.  Recognizing that clinical decisions often involve considerations versus evidence alone, the USPSTF recommends that clinicians make individual decisions as to screening necessity based on specific patient situations.

What is Considered Unhealthy Alcohol Use?

A standard drink, according to the CDC, “contains 0.6 ounces (14.0 grams or 1.2 tablespoons) of pure alcohol.” This is generally the amount of alcohol that is found in:

  • A 12-ounce beer.
  • An 8-ounce glass of malt liquor.
  • 5 ounces of wine.
  • 1.5 ounces or about a shot of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor such as vodka, whiskey, rum or gin.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), hazardous use of alcohol occurs when an individual drinks to a point in which the use of alcohol increases the risk of future negative health consequences. Unfortunately, a worldwide consensus as to what constitutes risky drinking has yet to be reached. However, any alcohol use among pregnant women is considered unhealthy and potentially hazardous.

Consumption of more than 1 drink per day for women, or more than 2 drinks per day for men, is considered potentially unhealthy.  Excessive drinking can lead to dependence and physical withdrawal. Individuals that become addicted to alcohol often require professional alcohol detox to safely overcome the addiction.

Benefits of Physician Counseling for Alcohol Use Disorder

Although more research is necessary before the task force can fully attest as to the benefits of modest physician counseling or potential drawbacks of screening patients for alcohol use disorders, current data suggests that there are zero risks associated with such interventional treatment by physicians.

In fact, the only possible drawbacks found are related to the possible stigma related to drinking habits and differences between doctors in establishing clear guidelines as to what they consider to be “unhealthy habits.” Likewise, patients may feel that the intimacy of the patient-doctor relationship suffers as a result of the alcohol risk assessment, but the potential for this outcome hardly negates the recommendations imposed.

Early detection of alcohol use disorder, or potentially risky alcohol use, especially in pregnant women, leads to reduced unhealthy alcohol use and improved behaviors. As such, the USPSTF has found that brief behavioral counseling interventions in adults that screen positive for risky or unhealthy alcohol use increases the likelihood that alcohol use is reduced. Furthermore, in cases of pregnant women, counseling interventions increase the likelihood that women abstain from alcohol use during pregnancy.


The moment that you have your first child, your world changes. Suddenly, there is a new center of the universe and a new top priority. You want to give your son or daughter the best life possible, and you want to keep them happy, healthy, and connected to you and the rest of your family.

Raising a healthy child means regular visits to the pediatrician, healthy foods, opportunities for games and exercise, and all of the other things that you’re careful to provide in order to care for your child’s physical health. But, as you may well realize, physical health isn’t everything: We also need to care for the mental health of our children.

Caring for your child’s mind

Just as with physical health, achieving great mental health requires good everyday decisions. In fact, your child’s mental health relies on many of the same things that his or her physical health does. A great diet, plenty of exercise, and regular sleep patterns are all good for a person’s mental health, just as they are for a person’s physical health.

The support of a loving family matters enormously, too. Bring your family together for meals and other moments — and be a good example of work-life balance by taking family vacations. Heading down to Florida may not seem like a mental health treatment, but experts say that it actually is. There’s a ton of evidence to support that a relaxing day on the beach and a West Palm Beach sunset cruise can actually calm us down, lower our stress levels, make us happier (and even physically healthier), and return us to our daily lives feeling recharged and being measurably more productive at school or work.

Another key to great mental health is communication, and that’s particularly important to parents and children. Your child isn’t going to go set up his or her own mental health care appointment and drive him or herself there. You need to know what is going on in his or her head. Encourage healthy communication and know how to get your child to open up, so that you have a better chance of identifying mental health issues early instead of finding out later that your child hid them from you.

What to do when things go wrong

Mental health and physical health have a lot in common, but we don’t always recognize that. We can keep our child eating healthy foods and exercising, yet we won’t be surprised if our child comes down with a physical ailment. Can we appreciate the same truth about mental health?

The fact of the matter is that, while there is much that you can and should do to care for your child’s mental health, you can’t control everything. Mental health issues are very common, even among children, and especially among teens. If your child shows symptoms of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other common problems, don’t take it personally or blame yourself, but do take it seriously.

In situations like these, experts say, you should seek professional help. Seek out mental health care providers like psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. Consider inpatient rehab, too, such as Polaris adolescent residential treatment centers for mental health issues. Sometimes, getting your child away from difficult situations and familiar settings can help enormously.

Just like physical health, mental health requires regular care. Also like physical health, it sometimes requires us to go to the doctor. When you make mental health a priority in your family, you’ll help your children live the life you want for them.


Ireland has been on my bucket list for years. And it is always the weather that stopped me. I have travelled through Scotland before and, despite being a wonderful trip, I also remember how it rained every day.

In the end, my curiosity about nature in Ireland outweighed my worries about the weather, and I decided to go backpacking in Ireland alone.

Are you also planning a backpacking trip to Ireland? Here is some first-hand advice.

Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

Plan your transport ahead

It may not sound as idyllic as this means you will need to have a travel itinerary, but the truth is Ireland is not that cheap, and the options of public transport are not available in huge numbers. Trains won’t bring you everywhere, but buses will. Unfortunately, during summer months these buses can be overly crowded, overbooked and very expensive.

Check the weather forecast.

Checking weather forecast is particularly good advice if you are planning to see the cliffs of Moher, and let’s be honest who doesn’t? Whether you are set on doing the long cliff walk or just a quick visit, it is best to keep this activity on a flexible schedule.

The reason is you don’t want to see the cliffs in poor weather conditions with low visibility. I stayed for two days in the region of the cliffs and went for the best day. It was still raining in the morning, but I got blue skies in the afternoon.

Image by coffeecupkat from Pixabay

Unfortunately, I forget about the excellent advice when booking the boat trip along the cliffs. Let’s say my views were limited to hanging overboard and seeing the water surface.  So it is always a good idea to visit Ireland during the best season and don’t forget to check the weather forecast.

Get a heritage card

If you are the type of backpacker that loves visiting ancient and historical attractions then we recommend purchasing a heritage cord. Heritage Card costs about 25 euros and will save you lots of money as it offers free entrance to all fee-paying heritage sites in Ireland. Even if you are only visiting Burren National Park, Skellig Michael and a few castles it’s already worth the money.

Get Backpacker Travel Insurance

Getting sick, loss of luggage or items, cancellation of the flight. Many things can go wrong when backpacking Ireland alone. Don’t let this ruins your trip and get backpack travel insurance in advance. Travel insurance from the trusted Ireland Insurance Company will cover most undesirable costs and will give you peace of mind.

Cheap Accommodation

A lot in Ireland is aimed at students, including the accommodations that you can use when you go backpacking. There are youth hostels everywhere, with common rooms that are quite affordable. You can make contact here with other young people from all over the world. Two great reasons if you are backpacking Ireland alone.

If you are hoping to get a bit more luxury, there is the option to sleep in one of the many hotels or a bed & breakfast or a guest house. All these accommodations have their star rating, which runs from 1 to 5 stars.